Why is my dog anxious?

dog anxiety symptoms

Tonight we're talking about a topic that matters a lot to me...


Doggy anxiety


Indeed, with Belle we deal with a lot of anxiety. That's because it took me a while to realize that border collies need a purpose... they need a job. Without a job, they get anxious. And anxiety causes undesirable behaviors.


Still to this day, I deal with her anxiety all the time. But now, I'm much better equipped to address her fears. I'll share those tools with you.


Is your dog suffering from anxiety? Most probably yes. Let's find out together.

The 30 secs summary

Dog anxiety is normal, it's super common. If your dog experiencing anxiety is okay. Anxiety might hit when they do something new.


But, problems arise if the anxiety is unchecked and becomes a disorder.

What is causing dog's anxiety?

  • Fear
  • Separation 
  • Old age 
  • Others (such as pain or discomfort)

How to detect if your dog suffers from anxiety?

Here are the most common symptoms:

  • Restlessness
  • Agitation or aggression
  • Excessive panting
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Decreased or increased appetite
  • Potty accidents in the house
  • Drooling
  • Depression
  • Destructive behavior; especially when left alone
  • Obsessive, compulsive behaviors; paw licking, tail chasing, skin chewing

How to decrease your dog's anxiety?

Really there's 3 ways to get rid of anxiety (or at least improve it). The first is to try to try to decrease the exposure to that event.


Second, try something called counterconditioning. In this method, you'll expose your dog to the cause of anxiety and try to change the association.


For example, if your pup doesn’t like car rides, you would take them on frequent five to ten-minute trips.


You would give them a lots of rewards and fun at the end of those trips so that they see that not all car rides are scary.


Finally the last resort is medication and aides. There are many solutions on the market, ranging from weighted clothes (thundershirt) to CBD oil and others.


You should check with your vet before trying any anti-anxiety product.

The full article

Heavy panting, shaking, drooling, pacing-any one of these behaviors from your pup can indicate anxiety.


As a dog pawrent, we almost always assume the worst, something must be wrong.


But, anxiety in dogs is a completely normal and even common behavior. Just like humans, dogs may experience a case of the jitters anytime they are doing something new. Or if they are experiencing something that might be a little scary.


Let's say your daughter was starting her first day in preschool today. She might stress. She might cry and refuse to go. But what would you do? Remove preschool from her life?


And then say that "ohh no, preschool is not for her. We tried but really she's not comfortable so we just avoid it."

Of course not!


Instead, what would you do?


Exactly! You would be a comforting presence for her. Letting her know that you are right there and preschool is safe for her. She has nothing to worry about, everything will be fine.


That's what you should do with your dog too. Whether your dog is anxious at the dog park, in car rides or during a thunderstorm.. You must address that fear and support your dog through it. Later in this email, I'm giving you actionable tips to get rid of those fears.


Problems can arise if that anxiety goes unchecked and becomes a disorder. The goal of this email is for you to better understand what anxiety looks like in dogs. Then you'll learn what causes it so that you can help calm your companion’s nerves.

What Causes Anxiety in your pup?

Much like you, your dog can experience anxiety or fear due to many different causes. Pin pointing those causes can help you to relieve your pup’s nervousness and prevent it from happening the next time.

Fear

Fear is a big motivator for anxiety. Fear of loud noises, such as thunderstorms, gun shots, and children, can give a pup anxiety.


This is partially because they may not understand the cause behind that noise. Fear can also be of strangers, unfamiliar places, strange sights, like an umbrella, or from unpleasant experiences.


You may have noticed that your pup gets nervous anytime they have to go the vet. That's because they may remember getting shots, staying overnight following surgery. Or even just the strange smells and slippery floor.


Onward.

Separation

Dogs are social beings and most of them live to be by their owner’s side. Being separated from you or other animals for any period of time can cause some anxiety.


For some dogs that period of time may be just a few minutes. Others might experience anxiety after being alone for several hours.

Old age

Even though they may be referred to as the “Golden Years”, aging for some dogs can bring about anxiety.


For some it may be because of various aches and pains and for others it may be due to cognitive dysfunction syndrome.

Others

Some dogs may experience anxiety related to an illness or injury because they are in pain or discomfort.


For other dogs it may be like PTSD in which they had negative experiences as a shelter or rescue dog. And for some dogs, their anxiety may come from somewhere that we don’t even know about.

How do you know if your dog has anxiety?

Anxiety in dogs can come in many forms. Sometimes with symptoms that you might not recognize as fear or anxiety.


Signs of anxiety can include:

  • Restlessness
  • Agitation or aggression
  • Excessive panting
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Decreased or increased appetite
  • Potty accidents in the house
  • Drooling
  • Depression
  • Destructive behavior; especially when left alone
  • Obsessive, compulsive behaviors; paw licking, tail chasing, skin chewing

Alright, enough for today. I know you had a big day. Your mind must be cloudy (at least mine is).


So I'll meet you right here, same time tomorrow for part 2 of this email (aka how to help relieve your dog's anxiety).


Right on time! Christophe I told you I would be here at 8:30pm sharp.


Ready to dive in the solutions to dog's anxiety?


Great, me too.

golden retriever sitting in a car

How to decrease my dog's anxiety?

While the occasional feeling of butterflies in your stomach isn’t considered a bad thing, prolonged or severe anxiety should be treated. So that your pup can live a happier, healthier life.


Be sure to get your veterinarian involved on your next visit to rule out medical causes of anxiety. Plus, he will help you determine the best route of treatment. Here are some treatments:

Cut it out

First thing’s first is to try to get to the bottom of your dog’s fears.


What is causing their anxiety?


Try to note what is going on around them when they get nervous. Are you trying to load them in the car, is there a thunderstorm, did a stranger walk by or did they destroy your couch while you were gone at work?


Knowing what is the inciting cause of your pup’s anxiety will help you to decrease their exposure to it.

Counterconditioning

Counterconditioning is a form of training in which you expose your pup to something that might cause anxiety in small doses. So that your dog gets used to it and no longer feels anxious.


For example, if your pup doesn’t like car rides, you would take them on frequent five to ten-minute trips.


You would give them a lots of rewards and fun at the end of those trips so that they see that not all car rides are scary.

Medications/aides/others

If you aren’t able to reduce or train away your dog’s anxiety, you may have to turn to the use of other aides.


These aides can come in the form of a weighted shirt or quiet, dark spot during a storm. It could be a crate for car travel, or socialization classes for stranger danger.


Knowing what causes your dog’s anxiety will help you determine what aides may best help you.


For some dogs, their anxiety may be so severe or the cause unknown so that normal treatments won’t work. For these dogs, medication may be the best option.


See your veterinarian before trying any anti-anxiety product. There are many prescription medications available and some over-the-counter ones as well.


CBD oil has gained some recognition lately as being useful in treating anxiety in dogs. Again, always consult with your veterinarian before giving your pup any type of medication.

Final Thoughts

A little anxiety or nervousness in our pups is a completely normal behavior. Yet, for some dogs that anxiety can get in the way of your dog living a happy and full life.


Knowing the symptoms and causes of anxiety will go a long way in helping you to rid your pup of these fearful feelings. So your dog can comfortably get back to their place by your side.


Hope you liked this part 2!


See you in a few days,

Chris


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